The never-say-die mantra was on full display for both the Minot High and Bismarck softball teams on Thursday at Herb Parker Stadium.
The Demons took the opening game 9-7 in eight innings after a home run by Lexi Folmer in the top of the seventh forced extras. A few hours later, the Majettes pulled off the comeback, rallying in the sixth and seventh and eventually walking off in the eighth off a two-run single by sophomore Cassie Askvig for an 11-10 victory.
“We preach to not give up and play hard all the time,” Minot coach Gerard Cederstrom said. “We had a lot of mistakes and we gave them a lot of runs, but they didn’t stop, played hard and kept going. You could see the fire still until the end.”
The Majettes (5-5 overall, 3-3 West Region) scored 10 of their 11 runs in the final three innings of Game 2. Minot plated three in the sixth to grab a 3-2 lead.
The Demons responded by batting around the order in the seventh and pushing across six runs. A dropped third strike allowed leadoff hitter Jaime Barta to reach base safely and the floodgates opened from there. The first four batters scored and Jazmine Bowman and Jordan Bushaw delivered two-out RBIs for an 8-4 lead.
Bismarck committed back-to-back errors in the seventh as Minot’s first five batters reached base. Senior Ashley Gathman – celebrating her birthday – ripped a two-run single up the middle and Askvig followed with a two-RBI triple to tie the game at 8.
“The girls aren’t going to give up and they play hard,” Bismarck coach Paige Nustad said. “They came to do their work. Minot, you have to give them credit, they hit the ball pretty well, too.”
Despite a tired pitching arm, Askvig retired the first two batters. But an error at second extended the inning and allowed RBI hits by Shelby Wittenberg and Jessica Bushaw.
“It’s tired, a little sore, but it’s worth the push-through for the team,” Askvig said. “That’s what we have to do is push through little injuries and pains.”
Minot’s McKaya Johnson tripled to lead off the eighth and came around to score two batters later. After Barta struck out senior Lexi Benno and Gathman, Askvig stepped to the plate with runners on second and third. She ripped an 0-1 pitch through the right side and Sam Schiele – representing the winning run – narrowly slid past the tag of Bismarck catcher Emily Omvig to end the game.
“It was pretty intense,” Schiele said. “I was expecting her to fall on top of me and get me out because my slide was horrible.”
Folmer wreaked havoc on the Majettes in Game 1. The catcher went 4-for-5 with a home run, double and five RBIs. Her solo shot to dead center tied the game at 6 and sent the game to extra innings.
Folmer came through for the Demons again in the eighth, drilling an RBI single to right field with two outs, scoring Erica Frank from second. Shelby Wittenberg roped a two-run double to left to give Bismarck a 9-6 lead.
Minot’s Kayla Budeau pulled the Majettes within two, tripling to center and scoring on a throwing error. But Barta struck out Haddie Lucy and Kate Somerville to end the game.
The Majettes rallied three times in the first five innings to grab the lead from Bismarck, but didn’t have one final comeback in them. Benno suffered the loss in the circle, allowing nine runs on 12 hits, walking one and striking out three. Benno helped herself in the fifth, crushing a two-run homer to straightway center field to give the Majettes a 6-5 advantage.
Miscues in the field cost Minot, especially in the fourth. The Majettes gave the Demons upwards of six outs in the frame, and Bismarck capitalized. Benno struck out Frank for what would have been the final out of the inning, but reached base safely on a dropped third strike. Emily Omvig drove in Leah Hoekstra on the next at-bat and Folmer followed with a two-run double to left to give the Demons a 5-4 lead.
“We never quit,” Cederstrom said. “Even in Game 1, we were still there. A couple hits here and there, we could have won that, too. We screwed up, made mistakes, but we didn’t let it drag us down and that’s key.”
The Majettes travel to Turtle Mountain on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.